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Morning Coffee: Top bank hired senior people with fake qualifications. This looks bad for Andrea Orcel

HSBC compliance fake qualifications

When you're pretending to be something that you're not

HSBC has had a few problems with its compliance function. In 2012 it was fined $1.9bn by the U.S. Justice Department for laundering Mexican drug money. Last year, it paid another $40m in money-laundering fines in Geneva. In the circumstances, you might think the bank would be super-careful about who it hires into senior compliance jobs. You would be wrong.

An investigation by the UK’s Channel Four News has discovered that some of HSBC’s senior compliance staff are not what they seem. Admittedly, they’re not based in New York City or London, but they’re still in positions of responsibility – in Saudi Arabia.

Channel Four found Ashraf BinAli, formerly head of regulatory and financial crime at HSBC Saudi Arabia, had a spurious bachelor’s degree from ‘Kensington University’, a bogus institution claiming to be based in California. Another, unnamed member of HSBC’s Saudi Arabian compliance department, had an equally dubious qualification.

HSBC’s Saudi Arabian branch offers asset management and investment banking services. The bank told Channel Four that when it hired BinAli in 2015, he already had 18 years of compliance experience and had passed relevant regulatory exams. BinAli resigned on January 14th.

Separately, UBS’s truly terrible performance in M&A last year doesn’t reflect well on Andrea Orcel. M&A revenues at the investment bank fell by 7% in 2015, compared to a 1% increase at Deutsche Bank and a 40% increase at Goldman Sachs. That’s strange, given that Andrea Orcel, CEO of UBS’s investment bank is an M&A man who’s spent the past few years hiring senior M&A bankers in an effort to create an ‘old school investment bank.’  The New York Times says Orcel desperately needs UBS to win more M&A business in the US, but that UBS’s US advisory brand was ‘hammered after the 2008 crisis as rainmakers decamped to boutiques.’

Meanwhile:

UBS will be moving more of its US jobs to Nashville. (Business Insider)

UBS will be moving staff from Switzerland to the eurozone [Poland], where costs are lower. (Financial Times)

“It’s incomprehensible to me why UBS is alternating between perfect and awful.” (Bloomberg)

UBS’s chief financial officer Kirt Gardner said the investment bank had gone into “risk off” mode in a “very complex and treacherous trading market”. (Financial Times) 

UBS Asian private banking clients were a big part of the problem: they simply stopped trading. (WSJ) 

Nomura’s international operations have now posted losses for two consecutive quarters. (Financial News) 

Morgan Stanley’s shares have declined by a third in the past six months. (Benzinga) 

The former head of press for Ed Miliband is now a spokesman for the City of London. (Financial Times)

How to present job-hopping on your CV. (BBC)

See ex-Barclays boss Antony Jenkins talk on how leadership and culture drives business performance, including the tools that leaders can deploy to improve performance.”  (Evening Standard) 

Where Chinese, French and Russian are spoken in NYC. (The Real Deal)

Photo credit: John Mcallister/Hemera/Thinkstock

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